Read to learn all about backpacking Brazil?
You’re in the right place as I created this ultimate guide with everything you could ever need to know about backpacking Brazil.
Brazil is one of the most fascinating and unique countries in the world.
Exploring Brazil is on the bucket list of so many backpackers and for a good reason!
This country is amazing and definitely worth backpacking. But you might have some questions and concerns. There isn’t exactly a popular backpacking route through Brazil after all!
Luckily for you, I have compiled a complete guide to backpacking Brazil with everything you could possibly need to know 🙂
Why you should Backpack Brazil
I can only describe Brazil as unbelievable. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in the modern world, but if you take its actual definition, this is Brazil. Brazil is too good to be true.
Except it is true.
From its mountains to cities, and beaches to rainforests, Brazil has one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. All of which are absolutely breathtaking.
It’s a country that can’t be adequately described, without seeing it for yourself.
However, if you want fundamental reasons to backpack Brazil. Here are 5 reasons:
- It’s extremely cheap
- It’s astonishingly beautiful
- The culture is second to none
- The Amazon.
- Its people are incredibly welcoming
If these aren’t enough reasons to visit Brazil then I don’t know what are.
Is Backpacking Brazil safe?
It’s impossible for me to personally guarantee your safety, but as part of the popular backpacking route through South America known as the Gringo Trail, Brazil is a pretty safe place to backpack, generally speaking.
We have all heard stories about the danger of the big cities in Brazil, and while these are true to an extent, the media definitely exaggerates how bad it really is.
As long as you follow basic safety rules, such as not walking alone at night, not holding your phone out beside a road, and not getting drunk on your own, to name a few. You should be fine.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to backpack Brazil, and it would be a shame to let safety concerns get in the way of it.
How long does Backpacking Brazil take?
This question is the epitome of “How long is a piece of string?” It’s up to you and how you like to travel. If you’d like, take advantage of your maximum time under your visa exemption. However, I would recommend at a minimum, allow one month for backpacking Brazil. But I would say 2 months is the perfect amount of time to spend here.
How much does Backpacking Brazil cost?
Backpacking South America and Brazil is pretty cheap. Backpacking Brazil will set you back around $1300 USD a month. That’s just under $45 USD on average each day! Quite often, this works out cheaper than staying at home and paying the bills.
As always with backpacking, it depends on how you like to live life on the road. Some backpackers prefer to go ultra-hardcore and spend only $1000 a month, others will prefer to do more activities and spend $1500 a month.
Backpacking’s main expenses are food, accommodation, travel and activities. A rough guideline on what you spend in Brazil each day would look like this:
Unfortunately, the main expense when backpacking is always activities. They really sap the budget! In Brazil, activities will still be cheaper than they would at home, but doing them too often can quickly ramp up your budget.
I made a backpacking budget calculator if you want to estimate how much it will cost you to visit Brazil, or any other country which is popular to backpack.
What currency do they use in Brazil?
In Brazil, they use Brazilian Reals, which are worth a lot less than most currencies backpackers use on a day-to-day basis.
Pronounced “Rre-au” the Real is the currency here. Its international code is BRL and its symbol is R$. Real is the only real currency here. *ba dum tss* You will not be able to use US dollars.
Here are the conversion rates for the Brazilian Real as of January 2023.
|Other Currency||Brazilian Real|
|$1 USD||5.29 BRL|
|€1 EUR||5.67 BRL|
|£1 GBP||6.40 BRL|
What language do they speak in Brazil?
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil and is spoken by nearly 98% of the population (German makes up the remaining 2%!).
As always when backpacking, it’s a good idea to learn some of the local language before setting out. This can help you in plenty of situations, especially as English is not as widely spoken in Brazil as other popular backpacking routes like the Banana Pancake Trail.
|Thank you||F: Obrigada / M: Obrigado|
|Bye (more common)||Tchau|
As you can see, Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish but it does have its differences. If you are fluent in Spanish, you will probably be able to get around pretty well. But it’s important to know that they are two separate languages at the end of the day.
Do you need a Visa to Backpack Brazil?
Most nationalities do not require a visa to enter Brazil.
US, Canadian, Australian and Japanese residents do not require a visa at all and are completely exempt.
Nationals from the UK and most other European countries can enter Brazil without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
Backpacking Brazil, this is a huge benefit as sometimes visas can be pricey, adding to the expenses before the backpacking trip even begins. Thankfully, Brazil does not require a visa. But make sure to check the visa requirements for your own nationality.
Do you need Travel Insurance to Backpack Brazil?
Although it is not a must nor a legal requirement, it is very highly recommended to always have travel insurance, particularly in Brazil as you’ll likely be pretty far from home, if anything were to go wrong health-wise. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here’s my recommendation:
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Do you need any Vaccinations to Backpack Brazil?
While no certificates are required to get into Brazil, there are vaccination recommendations. It’s recommended that all travellers have their Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid vaccines.
You may also wish to get vaccines for Rabies, Tuberculosis and in particular, Yellow fever, as most of Brazil has a risk of transmission. You should try and avoid mosquito bites at all times.
When to Backpack Brazil
Choosing when to backpack Brazil depends on how you want your experience to be.
If you want to have the cheapest possible trip, go when the crowds are low in Winter, from December to March. It’s an especially great time to come because even though it’s winter, the temperatures are still around 25°C / 77°F!
If you want to have the best experience, come in February. This is Carnival season in Brazil, and as you can imagine, it’s party season all around! Although the prices increase dramatically in February due to the surge in tourism, if you are on a strict budget, try to come either side of Carnival in winter.
How to Get to Brazil
Getting to Brazil is pretty easy. If you are backpacking Brazil, you want to find the cheapest flights possible. To do this, we recommend using SkyScanner. It also helps if you are flexible with your travel dates.
It’s usually cheapest (and easiest) to fly into Rio or Sao Paulo. From Europe, you can expect a flight to cost between €300-400 (or £ equivalent) and from the US or Canada, you can expect a flight to cost between $100-200.
From Europe or outside of North America, it’s usually cheapest to get an indirect flight. This can be a great way to save some money as a backpacker!
How to Travel while in Brazil
Instead, you’ll want to use private buses. These make for a more comfortable ride, which you want when going long distances. These buses are comfortable enough to sleep on, and even have toilets onboard. They also stop every 2-3 hours to allow you to refresh. It’s likely that these buses will make up the majority of your travel.
Some examples of prices:
|Rio to Sao Paulo||90 BRL|
|Rio to Salvador||240 BRL|
|Sao Paulo to Brasilia||130 BRL|
Although these prices are higher than chicken buses (normal public buses), you don’t want to travel 20 hours on a bus standing up.
Alternatively, you can fly around Brazil. This obviously costs a lot more but is quicker and more comfortable.
These can be found fairly cheaply (compared to flights globally) and there are plenty of budget airlines. Some airlines are so small they don’t even show up on SkyScanner so be sure to check with your hostel for the best prices!
A rough price you can expect to pay for each flight is $50 USD, which is pretty much an across-the-board price for the whole of Brazil.
What to Bring to Brazil
As a backpacker, it’s always important to pack light. Overpacking will be your biggest regret! Make sure to bring the essentials for any backpacking trip. You won’t need much more than this. But there are a few items that may come in particularly useful when backpacking Brazil.
- Universal Charger Adapter – Brazil has a mix of American and European sockets so it is important to have both available, as well as an N socket.
- Travel-friendly credit card – important to avoid the large processing fees, I recommend Revolut
- Padlock – hostels have lockers to store your backpack
- Day bag – you won’t want to haul your main backpack around every day!
- Mosquito Spray – you want to avoid bites at all costs!
- Mosquito Net – if your hostel window is open, mosquitos can get in during the night
- Hiking boots – if you’re going into the Amazon, you want appropriate footwear
Josh’s Backpacking Brazil Top Tips
Setting out on a long backpacking trip, or a solo backpacking trip can be intimidating. Not to worry! There are some general budget travel tips which apply anywhere, but here are 5 amazing tips for backpacking Brazil:
- Keep your Netflix subscription – those bus journeys can be long, and you’ll want something to keep yourself entertained!
- Uber is cheaper than taxis – Uber is cheaper, more reliable and safer!
- Bring a Student ID – if you have some, this will save you literally $100s USD
- Don’t drink the tap water – it’s not safe or clean, and don’t brush your teeth with it either!
- Toilet paper goes in the bin – yes, you read that right. Don’t flush the toilet paper.
Backpacking Brazil Itinerary
As I said before, the best length of time to spend backpacking Brazil is 2 months, therefore that is the length of my itinerary. If you wish to stay for less time, choose your favourite places and visit them. If you wish to stay longer, you can visit even more off-the-beaten-track places.
Although, as always with backpacking, I don’t strongly encourage you to stick to a pre-determined itinerary. Often it’s the last-minute agreements that make for the best memories! Especially while solo travelling, as you may want to stick with a group of friends you make.
Days 1-6: Rio de Janeiro
Arguably the most famous city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is where you are most likely to start your Brazillian adventure. There are unlimited things to do in Rio from its beautiful beaches to its Olympic stadiums and World Cup football stadiums, there are so many things to do. And of course, the obvious Christ the Redeemer. Who could forget?! Spending a week here is so easily done, you could spend so much longer as well.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Rio, I recommend the Mambembe Hostel. It’s affordable, clean and well-kept, has amazing vibes and is in a beautiful area. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Rio, I recommend the Windsor Oceanico Hotel. It’s exactly how you picture a beach resort in Brazil, wow. Book your stay by clicking here.
Day 7: Take a day trip to Petropolis
Petropolis is very popular amongst all travellers. It’s an amazing day trip from Rio to the closest mountain resort. It’s a great contrast from the beach and sea at Rio, and definitely worth taking a day to visit this part of Brazil which is so rich in history, there’s an incredible imperial museum!
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Petropolis, I recommend Hotel Casablanca Imperial. There are no hostels available to book online, but this is a great option that’s affordable and high quality. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 8-11: Spend some time on an Island on Ilha Grande
A popular getaway for the locals, Ilha Grande is a great spot for relaxing by the sea. You’ll be tired after a week of non-stop doing things in Rio and want some time to relax. There’s no better place than this fairytale-like island with beautiful white sandy beaches.
📍 Budget Option- When staying on Ilha Grande, I recommend Hostel Refugio. It’s a very clean hostel, with a great atmosphere, and the staff are really friendly too. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying on Ilha Grande, I recommend Pousada Convés – Ilha Grande. It’s a great hotel in a great location, with plenty of chances to hike, snorkel and more. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 12-15: Explore Paraty
Paraty is home to the famous Bloco de Lama, a mud carnival where crowds cake themself in mud, chanting songs in the process. If you’re in Brazil during Carnival, it’s a good spot. Regardless, there are endless things to do in Paraty, there are plenty of great hikes and the town itself has a lot of history which you sense walking down the beautiful streets.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Paraty, I recommend Chill Inn Paraty Hostel & Pousada. It is the place to be in Paraty, right in the heart of it all. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Paraty, I recommend Pousada Don Juan. It’s also located right in the heart of Paraty, but it’s also a great hotel. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 16-21: Move east to Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil and one of the biggest in the whole of South America and one of the most famous, too. It’s a key stop along your journey of backpacking in Brazil.
As we know, Brazilians love their football. Sao Paulo is home to the Museu do Football, a very interesting visit. There are so many things to do here, it’s actually a great place for shopping believe it or not!
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Sao Paulo, I recommend the O de Casa Hostel Bar. The atmosphere here is AMAZING. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Sao Paulo, I recommend Hotel Cadoro São Paulo. Two words: Breakfast and View. What a hotel, definitely the best in Sao Paulo. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 22-23: Take another island retreat on Ilha do Mel
After another 10 days of backpacking, you deserve another break. Where better than Ilha do Mel? The island itself is beautiful, but the vibe the island has is next level. At weekends, the nightlife is very vibrant.
But during the week, the island is great for relaxation. Take 2 days and spend your time on Ilha do Mel as you see fit. There are also plenty of nearby islands to island hop!
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying on Ilha do Mel, I recommend Pousada Marimar. This beachfront hotel will really make your Ilha do Mel stay, it’s extraordinary. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 24-25: Visit a city with great history, Curitiba
Curitiba is a great stop-off as you make your way towards the Argentinian border for the Iguazu Falls. This city, although the capital of Paraná, is pretty chilled. It has a nice music and cultural scene and is a much more modern city than other places in Brazil. The botanic gardens here are second to none!
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Curitiba, I recommend the Social Hostel. This hostel has some of the comfiest beds in all of Brazil! Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Curitiba, I recommend Radisson Hotel Curitiba. This is a really nice hotel in a nice area, with good vibes and also, a gym! Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 26-28: Relax on the beach in Florianopolis
As you’re nearby, you may as well travel the extra bit south to Florianopolis. Arguably the home of Brazi’s beaches. There are 42 beaches in Florianopolis! Yes, 42. Each of them is as beautiful as the last, and it’s a great way to spend a few days before the long journey to the Iguazu Falls.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Florianopolis, I recommend the HI Floripa Hostel Centro. It’s in a pretty quiet part of town but it’s also the safest part. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Florianopolis, I recommend Radisson Hotel Curitiba. This hotel is the perfect place to stay, right in the centre of the city. Only a few minutes walk from everything. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 29-30: Visit the Iguazu Falls
As you reach the halfway point in backpacking Brazil, there’s no better way to spend it than by seeing heaven on Earth. I can talk about the Iguazu Falls all day and yet, I’ll never be able to truly describe it. Words will never do these waterfalls justice. They are number one for me, and nothing comes close.
To visit the falls, you’ll stay in Foz do Iguaçu. This city is basically on the border of Argentina.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Foz do Iguaçu, I recommend the Tetris Container Hostel. According to Lonely Planet, it’s the coolest hostel in Brazil. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Foz do Iguaçu, I recommend Recanto Cataratas – Thermas, Resort e Convention. This is a wonderful resort to spend your time near the falls. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 31-33: Take the long journey up to Bonito
Bonito is in the Pantanal region, which is the largest tropical wetland in the world. It’s quite the place to visit! It’s a phenomenal place to spend time outdoors. With hundreds of waterfalls, it’s the perfect stop after visiting the Iguazu Falls. Although not as impressive, you are able to snorkel in Bonito!
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Bonito, I recommend Selina Bonito. Bonito is a little expensive as it is out of the way, but it’s a great hostel to stay in. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Bonito, I recommend the Promenade Bonito All Suites. It’s an extremely modern and impressive hotel, and well worth a stay. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 34-36: Get one with nature in Campo Grande
Continuing your stay near the Pantanal, Campo Grande is a slightly more popular stop for backpackers. Similarly to Binoto, it’s a great spot to get one with nature. There are so many opportunities to explore and try and spot some local wildlife (from a safe distance of course!)
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Campo Grande, I recommend the Hostel DS. Hostel options here are limited, but thankfully this one is still of great quality and value for money. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Campo Grande, I recommend the OYO Cerrado Hotel. It’s pretty affordable for a hotel in Brazil but it still makes for a good stay. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 37-38: Fall asleep on the way to Salvador
Prepare for a pretty long drive you move up to northern Brazil and reach Salvador. Salvador is a remarkable city but quite different from the mayhem of the South. It’s much more chilled and relaxed than Rio or Sao Paulo. Fun fact: The carnival here is arguably better too! 🤫
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Salvador, I recommend Café Hostel. The vibe here is great, the host is so involved in hostel life! Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Salvador, I recommend Fiesta Bahia Hotel. Slap bang in the centre, there’s nowhere better to stay than here. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 39-43: Take yet another long journey to Recife
Bad news again! It’s the long Brazillian bus journeys that make up the single downside of backpacking Brazil. This is another case of one of those. Recife is a must-do though! There are some unbelievable beaches here, but it is pretty expensive sadly, with few hostels.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Recife, I recommend Hostel e Pousada Boa Vista. Unfortunately, it’s a little quiet, but as I said, there aren’t many options. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Recife, I recommend Grand Mercure Recife Boa Viagem. The sea view from this hotel is simply gorgeous. It’s worth staying here for that reason alone. Book your stay by clicking here.
Day 45: Take a day trip to Olinda
Olinda isn’t really that important of a stop when backpacking Brazil, but it’s definitely worth a day of your time anyway. It’s a party town and completely transforms during carnival! If you like to party, you may wish to spend longer here.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Olinda, I recommend Espaço da Treze. Unfortunately, it’s a little quiet again, but there aren’t many options. There are reports of having a 4-bed dorm to yourself! Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Olinda, I recommend Hotel Costeiro. The breakfast here is enough reason to come, it’s delicious! Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 46-49: Party in Pipa
Continuing the party vibes, Pipa is another key stop when heading up the east coast. Pipa is very popular and is an amazing stop. It’s the sort of place you could come to for a 2-week holiday. There are so many things to do during the day and so many things to do at night.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Pipa, I recommend Zicatela Beach Hostel. The atmosphere here sums up Pipa! It’s such a great hostel to stay in. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Pipa, I recommend Paua Hotel Boutique. The trend of beach views continues, and this hotel is no different. Wow! Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 50-52: Feel the vibe in Fortaleza
And one last stop before heading into the jungle. Fortaleza is a great final stop on the eastern coast of Brazil. Once more, there are pretty beaches with white sand here, but there are also opportunities to experience local music and culture, and even go shopping in the popular markets.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Fortaleza, I recommend Refúgio Hostel Fortaleza. This hostel is one of the best by far, it’s just a great place to stay. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Fortaleza, I recommend Seara Praia Hotel. They do a buffet breakfast, enough said. Book your stay by clicking here.
Days 53-59: Explore the Amazon from Manaus
Last but not least, what a way to end your backpacking journey in Brazil. Backpacking Brazil simply wouldn’t be complete without spending some time in the Amazon. Head into the state of Amazonas and from Manaus, you can go on a 4-5 day trek and get deep into the jungle, far from civilisation. It’s an experience that you will never forget, and a must-do when visiting Brazil.
📍 Budget Option- When staying in Manaus, I recommend Hostel Manaus. What a hostel to end your trip on, it’s a great location and a great hostel too. Book your stay by clicking here.
📍 Mid-Range Option- When staying in Manaus, I recommend Intercity Manaus. Similarly, what a hotel to end your trip on. Well worth a stay. Book your stay by clicking here.
Obviously, you only need your accommodation for either side of your jungle trekking experience.
Day 60: Make your way back to Fortaleza for your flight
Finally, on your last day, make your way back to Fortaleza. It has an international airport so you may be able to fly home directly. Or you may wish to fly to Rio or Sao Paulo and then take a flight home.
Alternatively, you may be continuing your backpacking journey across South America. In this case, you’ll want to fly to a destination of your choice.
5 Amazing Things to Do in Brazil
Brazil is such a large nation and it’s impossible for me to give a list of everything there is to do while backpacking Brazil. However, I have created a list of 5 must-do, non-negotiable things to do when backpacking here. In no particular order,
- Visit Cataratas do Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls – Brazil side)
Arguably the most surreal part of our planet. I can only describe it as a real-life Pandora from Avatar. It’s genuinely mindblowing. Pictures will never do it justice. Seeing it in person, it’s indescribable. Simply, wow.
Interested in visiting Iguazu Falls? It’s best to book with Viator, there are hundreds of options varying in tour type and price. Book today by clicking here.
- Hike up to Christ the Redeemer
Can you really say you’ve been to Brazil if you haven’t taken a picture with this infamous statue? You don’t have to do the hike and you can take a bus, but the hike definitely makes the view even more worth it. Although please be careful on the trail, there are some reports of theft.
Interested in visiting Christ the Redeemer? It’s best to book with Viator, there are hundreds of options varying in tour type and price. Book today by clicking here.
- Spend some time in the Amazon
Again, can you really say you’ve been to Brazil if you haven’t spent time in the Amazon Rainforest? In Brazil, you will most likely do this in the state of, you guessed it, Amazonas. It’s an incredible way to experience life in the rainforest, and there’s nothing else like it. It’s an entirely unique experience, second to none. This will probably be one of the priciest things you do in Brazil.
Interested in visiting Amazonas? It’s best to book with Viator, there are hundreds of options varying in tour type and price. Book today by clicking here.
- Have some fun at Carnival
If you’re there at the right time, being in Brazil during Carnival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It completely transforms the whole country. Every single Brazillian starts to party and dance, and it’s such an enjoyable time of year. You can even take classes to learn how to Samba dance.
Interested in booking tickets to Carnival? It’s best to book with Viator, there are hundreds of options varying in tour type and price. Book today by clicking here.
- Visit a Favela
A Favela is a community everyone pictures when you imagine Brazillian houses. Visiting one can be a life-changing experience, seeing how the Brazillian working class live on a day-to-day experience. It’s best to take a guide as some of them are not as safe as others, so taking advice from a local is advised.
Interested in visiting a Favela? It’s best to book with Viator, there are hundreds of options varying in tour type and price. Book today by clicking here.
3 Best Hikes in Brazil
When backpacking in Brazil, there are plenty of opportunities to hike. As a backpacker, you are probably prone to a hike or two! So here are 3 of the finest hikes you can do in Brazil.
- Christ the Redeemer Hike
Once again, this one is fairly obvious. But for argument’s sake, I’ve included it anyway. It’s a fairly straightforward hike which takes about 90 minutes one way. There is no cost for the hike itself, but it does cost to access the statue.
- Ilha Grande Hikes
As we said above, this island is great for hiking! Its difficulty and length depend on what you wish to commit to. It’s possible to do an entire hike around the island, but this takes about a week and is just over 50 miles.
- Hikes in Paraty
Paraty is another great place for hiking in Brazil. There are a number of routes you can take varying in difficulty and fitness ability. You have the opportunity to see a lot of amazing waterfalls here.
- Pedra do Telégrafo Hike
This hike is home to the infamous shot of hanging over the edge of a cliff. It’s a great hike and well worth it even just for this picture alone. But the hike itself is a good one too and definitely worth doing while in Brazil.
- Hikes in Paraty
Okay, okay, this one is obvious again. But you can’t go to Brazil without doing the obvious. When backpacking in Brazil, if you don’t hike the Amazon, you’re doing something wrong. It’s non-negotiable.
Backpacking Brazil: The Wrap Up
And there you have it, a complete guide to backpacking Brazil.
Hopefully, all of your questions were answered and you can now start planning the trip of a lifetime. If you get the chance, make sure to visit Brazil
It’s an extraordinary country and it would be a privilege for anyone to visit. If you do backpack Brazil, make sure to read my guide to backpacking the Gringo Trail, it will give you plenty of options on where your next destination could be.
Enjoy your time backpacking Brazil, you’ll have the most amazing experience of your life.